My Teenage Dream …

 

… had nothing to do with somebody thinking I was pretty without any makeup on, or thinking I was funny when I got the punchline wrong.

As if anybody would care about that rubbish when they could be dreaming instead of having “wild magic” (the ability to shapeshift into animals) or being the first female knight in the realm of Tortall in over a century! Now those are teenage dreams worth having.

And, until I was at least sixteen (okay, I’m lying, right up until now), they were my dream: I wanted to be Veralidaine Sarrasri, the girl with the wild magic. I used to go to bed at night wishing I’d wake up as Alanna of Trebond – otherwise known as the Lioness – the female knight who would one day be King’s Champion.

Alanna and Veralidaine are characters from my favourite books as a teenager. “Daine” is the protagonist of the Immortals series and Alanna is the heroine of the Song of the Lioness quartet. Both these series are written by the glorious Tamora Pierce. As a teenager, I read these books over and over, wishing like heck that I could be transported from the small town of Wynyard, Tasmania, to the magical world that Pierce had created.

I wasn’t a feminist as a teenager – I didn’t really know what that meant. I thought boys were just as good as boys and I hoped, one day, that one of them might see past my geeky bookishness and want to be my boyfriend. However, I did yearn to be like the strong female characters in these books. I wished I wasn’t a small, ungainly klutz and was, instead, a kick-arse chick with a sword. My love of animals also meant I longed to have the powers Daine had, to communicate with, heal and, eventually, transform into, animals.

Don’t tell anyone but, some days, when I was alone in the backyard, I kind of tried …

Tamora Pierce has an incredible gift for creating characters that are at the same time strong and flawed; brave and vulnerable. This meant that even as a small, ungainly klutz, I could identify with them. They felt real, and this allowed me to believe that maybe, one day, I could be just like them.

Pierce is also very skilled at creating marvellous worlds that – while completely fantastical and breathtakingly magical – are very genuine. I completely believed in the universe she created. As a kid growing up on a small island, it was very possible to me that I could hop on a boat on Bass Strait and end up in Tortall, Carthak or the Yamani Islands.

No writer has ever really touched me the way Tamora Pierce did. No writer has ever been able to fully transport me to another universe; have me completely invested in the world and characters they have created. These books are completely immersive. I felt as though the characters were my friends; as if the places Pierce described were ones I’d visited or could visit if only my teenage dream came true.

Chris Morphew said in a speech at the CBCA conference in Hobart that he is blessed with the mind of a twelve year old boy. I’m blessed with the mind of a fifteen year old girl. I still believe that Daine and Alanna are out there, somewhere, talking with wolves or fighting the evil Duke Roger. Knowing that they’re out there is what keeps my dreams alive and what allows me to believe that, if a girl can become a wolf, or a King’s Champion, I can be anything I want to be as well. Tamora, Daine and Alanna taught me that anything, truly, is possible; that the world is magical …

And that you never should give up on your dreams.

What book most influenced you in your teenage years?

8 thoughts on “My Teenage Dream …

  1. I am a 15 year old girl. 🙂 Seriously. I always wanted to be a fairy as a kid, and now I want to read peoples minds… Actually I TRY to read peoples minds…
    Carma.

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  2. I must say Lord of the Rings influenced my reading. Have been a complete Tolkien nut since age 9. I remember feeling an immense sadness at the end. I had collected half the History of Middle Earth tomes by the time I was sixteen.

    Douglas Adams influenced my writing with Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

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  3. I’ve always wanted Garion’s powers from the Belgariad, to be able to speak ‘the will and the word’ and do things with my mind. There were soo many times in high school that I could have used those abilities.

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  4. i wanted to be george from the famous five, i read those books till they fell apart , the sad remenants i have still for one of my girls to read one day…

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  5. One of my few blog replies, considering the amount of time I spend looking at it 😉

    I was a huge fantasy nut. The first “real” fantasy book I read was The Elfstones of Shannara(book 2 in the series… didn’t realise at the time…) and I picked it up from the shelf of Ulverstone High School library purely based on the cover. I took one look at the colourful depiction of a Druid decked out like Robin Hood, swords and bow and arrows and got trapped in the imagination of it all(and led to all kinds of other nerdy endeavours like Magic cards, Dungeons and Dragons, Vampire: The Masquerade… and on some level, metal music, because it evokes the same delving into the imagination as an escape from mundane reality).

    1. Weis & Hickman’s, The Death Gate Cycle. Still my favourite series to this day, I still read it and think how on earth can so many amazing ideas be crammed into one series. Still boggles my mind. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Death_Gate_Cycle

    2. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. I read this a long time before tackling Lord of the Rings, and it didn’t come anywhere near The Hobbit. From the dwarves and their songs, to Smaug wreaking havoc, this is just one of the finest fantasy books ever written. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hobbit

    3. Brooks’ Magic Kingdom series. I did read the “more serious” high fantasy stuff(Jordan, Goodkind, Eddings et al.) but, as is the case with the Hobbit vs. LOTR, I liked it when the seriousness was toned back a bit and it wasn’t quite so ‘cookie cutter'(boy from village goes on journey, discovers is wizard and saviour of the world, has a few issues along the way and dalliances with the dark side, but prevails anyway and the light conquers the dark). This series has humour, a bit of silly, and bit of serious and contributes some nice memories of driving to Launceston with my Dad and buying The Black Unicorn from Birchalls and lying on the grass under the oak trees in City Park reading it, because I couldn’t wait to start. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_Kingdom_%28Terry_Brooks%29

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  6. Kate, I’m so honored that you feel this way (says the woman who’s still really 12). It makes me incredibly happy to know you feel you can be anyone and that you should never give up on your dreams, because those are the things I believe in, down to my bones.

    I hope that I always remain worthy of your opinion, and that you get posts and mail like I do!

    Tammy

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    1. Dear Tamora,
      The fifteen year old girl inside me is squealing and bouncing around the room now! The twenty eight year old real me may or may not be doing the same … :o)
      Thank you for your message. It made my day. And thank you for writing books that have so inspired me and so many other young readers.
      Best wishes,
      Kate G x

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